One of the coolest teachings that show our divine nature and potential as children of Heavenly Parents is that of spiritual gifts. We each have at least one of them, and we can develop others throughout our lives.
What are spiritual gifts?
Gifts of the spirit are “blessings or abilities given by God to His children through the power of the Holy Ghost.” They are given to us to not only bless ourselves but also bless those around us according to our faith and what we need.
D&C 46 outlines a few of these spiritual gifts and is often the go-to scripture when we talk about this. Section 46 includes things like the “faith to heal,” “speak[ing] with tongues,” “working of miracles,” “discerning of spirits,” and other pretty miraculous things.
However, gifts of the spirit aren’t limited to what’s specifically mentioned in that section. Bruce R. McConkie once wrote that “Spiritual gifts are endless in number and infinite in variety” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith).
Gifts you may not have thought about before
After digging around to see what church leaders have said on this topic, I compiled a list of spiritual gifts they mentioned. Some of them are things I hadn’t ever considered as “gifts” before:
- having charity
- hearing and using the still small voice
- calming others
- caring for others
- being able to weep
- avoiding contention
- being agreeable
- avoiding vain repetition
- seeking that which is righteous
- not passing judgment
- looking to God for guidance
- being a disciple
- offering prayer
- having faith
- receiving personal revelation
- expressing yourself
- being honest
- solving problems creatively
- logical thinking
- having curiosity
- discerning what other people need
(These were found in the following talks and speeches: “There are Many Gifts” by Marvin J. Ashton, “Spiritual Gifts” by President Dallin H. Oaks, “Gifts of the Spirit” by Elder Robert D. Hales, “Spiritual Gifts” by Sister Peggy S. Worthen, “Every Good Gift” by Elder Robert D. Hales, and “Gifts of the Spirit” by James A. Cullimore. Check one out if you have time!)
The importance of learning to ask
One spiritual gift I find especially intriguing is the gift of asking. Although I had never quite thought of it as a spiritual gift, I realized it very much qualifies as one. It’s sometimes hard to ask for help or directly tell someone what you need. It takes courage to ask for opportunities to grow or ask a question with the chance that you may not like the answer.
In fact, this is a spiritual gift we should all strive to have, considering it’s required for our progress. D&C 9:7 says,
“Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.”
Joseph Smith taught that our spiritual gifts will come to us when we have faith and are obedient. The combination of having faith and asking our Heavenly Father for answers and opportunities is what opens the doors that lead to everything else.
“Is our faith sufficiently strong?”
James A. Cullimore, in reference to spiritual gifts, once asked, “As members of the Church, is our faith sufficiently strong?” Asking for anything, especially in a spiritual context, can be a scary thing. We fear how we’ll feel if the answer or outcome isn’t something we like or expect. But finding the vulnerability and faith to ask of God what we need to brings about growth and progress, which is what we’re here on earth to do.
Joseph Smith initiated the Restoration of the Gospel by asking a big question. And I suspect that took a lot of faith. In verse 13 of Joseph Smith—History 1, Joseph tells of when he finally decided to “do as James directs” after considering his options, a crossroads I’m sure many of us have also arrived at:
At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to “ask of God,” concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture.
Do you wish to know if something is true? Do you want an opportunity to grow and serve? Do you want to know if your decision is the correct one? Do you want to magnify your spiritual gifts or even discover new ones? Find a way out of the “darkness and confusion” and “do as James directs”—”ask of God” with faith.
Your answer may not be big and miraculous (in fact, it probably won’t), but you will be amazed at what follows.